The Gnostic gospels are popping up in some unexpected places. John Hiatt’s new rock/Americana CD, Master of Disaster
, has a song, “Love’s Not Where We Thought We Left It,” that makes reference to at least two of the Gnostic gospels. The second verse contains the lyric,The apostles were jealous
Of Mary Magdalene and Jesus
Said Why do you love her more than us
Jesus turned back in disgust
Said Why do I love her more than you
The answer is a question
Just ask yourself what can I do
To gain my Lord’s affection
This little story, set to a driving rock beat, is reminiscent of The Gospel of Mary of Magdala
, which portrays Mary has having secret knowlege that Jesus shared only with her, not with the other disciples. It’s even more reminiscent of a passage in The Gospel of Philip
, which tell us that Jesusloved her [Mary Magdalene] more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often on her mouth. The rest of the disciples . . . said to him "Why do you love her more than all of us?" The Savior answered and said to them,"Why do I not love you like her? When a blind man and one who sees are both together in darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness."
--a typically Zen-like response from the Jesus of the Gnostic gospels.
The third verse of the song makes reference to The Gospel of Thomas
(my favorite), in which Jesus talks about making "male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female" (verse 22). The third verse of Hiatt's song also tells us that "love is unorthodox" -- a nice reminder of a truth that most of this blog's readers already know.
When asked about the song in a recent interview
, John Hiatt said: “I started reading the new Jim Harrison novel [True North
] and he mentioned Elaine Pagels, who's written a lot about the Gnostic gospels
, and how the Gnostic Christian thing didn't survive and the more orthodox stream did. It's just about the idea of people thinking they have the market cornered on goodness and godliness. There's a premium on that these days, on bluster rather than humility.”
I’ve never read anything by Jim Harrison, but I’m intrigued that he would quote Elaine Pagels in a novel
. I’m going to the beach next week (Tybee Island), so I may take along Harrison’s novel to read on the beach (or in a Savannah coffee house in the evenings).
John Hiatt’s Master of Disaster
is a great CD, especially if you like earthy rock with a touch of Memphis blues and a bit of an alt.country twang – and a nice dose of unorthodox theology.To hear the song “Love’s Not Where We Thought We Left It,” go to the New West Records homepage and click on Podcast #6 (“Freebies”), a 25-minute mp3 collection of five songs by New West artists. Hiatt’s song is the second one. Stick around for the fourth song in the set, “Uninhabited Man,” by another mystic, Richard Thompson (a Sufi).